Judaism's Contributions to the World Essay

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Although its history extends back to the days of the ancient Israelites and Hebrew people, Judaism continues to sustain a profound influence in our modern day society. Despite centuries of persecution, pain, and suffering, Jews have managed to uphold their moral beliefs and practices to this day. These beliefs have influenced society in many aspects. In fact, most of western society is founded on the moral and ethical principles found in the Jewish bible. Judaism has made countless contributions to the world in matters of monotheism, the intellectual world, and world views concerning social justice and the sanctity of human life. The following paragraphs will argue these points in further detail. A fundamental principle that exists within Judaism is that every human has the right to live freely and with dignity. Although this may seem to be a reality for us, it unfortunately was not for people in antiquity. Whether it be in the form of infanticide, human sacrifice, or simply killing for entertainment, in many ancient societies prior to Judaism, these practices were considered socially acceptable. An example of this can be found in the writings of one the Western world’s most influential thinkers, Aristotle: "There must be a law that no imperfect or maimed child shall be brought up. And to avoid excess in population, some children must be exposed. For a limit must be fixed to the population of the state." The sanctity of life is an essential concept within the Jewish worldview. This idea is given to us through the ten commandments: "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13 NRSV). Another example of how Judaism places a large focus on the inviolability of human life can be found in the Talmud: “He who saves one life... is as if he saves an entire universe. He who destroys a life... is as if he destroys an entire universe.” (Sanhedrin 4:5) These quotes make it obvious that

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